A few friendly readers commented that they enjoyed discovering Mary Gauthier through this blog. So I thought I’d send some love to Solomon Burke, one of our neglected national treasures, an amazing soul singer from the 60’s whose career never quite lifted off (and if you watch the video below, where he appears with the Rolling Stones, you may see why “lift off” was unlikely). A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Burke was born in 1940 and began his recording career at age 18. The Stones covered his song, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” back in 1964. Another Burke-penned tune, “Cry To Me,” was featured in the film Dirty Dancing.
I own two of his later CDs, and both are great. In 2002, Burke — the proclaimed “King of Rock and Soul” — made a comeback into public consciousness with the Grammy Award-winning, “Don’t Give Up on Me.” It got my attention because many of my favorite artists, including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, and Tom Waits, helped co-write the songs. It was produced by another personal favorite, Joe Henry, who favors a clean, clear, natural sound. In 2006, Burke came out with “Nashville,” featuring guest vocals from more of my favorites: Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris. You can’t go wrong with either disk.
The clip below is great fun, but not truly representative of his current, more subdued, introspective, soul-searching sound. He’s been called the last great blues singer of his generation, and I can’t argue with that. Oh, and by the way, reportedly Solomon Burke has 14 children, 90 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren — and counting.